Last month we covered some everyday health points and strategies for at-least-not-getting-less-healthy while traveling for work. But what about avoiding COVID-19? The rules of the road have changed. Here are some thoughts about maintaining your sanitation and sanity while on the road for the job.
“The first wealth is health.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
How to Avoid COVID-19 for the Independent Claims Adjuster
There are many steps you can take to limit your exposure to the coronavirus and the potentially resulting COVID-19. The overarching goal is “don’t put it in your body”. As most of us are not germaphobes, we may not realize that we frequently touch our face, that we don’t wash our hands very often, and that we contaminate ourselves and our environment constantly. While it isn’t helpful to get too stressed out about it, you can increase your awareness and take diligent action to safeguard yourself while getting about your business with minimal risk.
Sanitize your vehicle, phone, keys, and other traveling belongings
You can only really control your own personal environment. Luckily, that environment is a pretty manageable size when you’re traveling. Start your journey with a clean slate. Use wipes, or a sanitizing cleaner, to sanitize the interior of your car, your phone, your keys, and any handles or handholds you encounter during your day, including luggage. You should do this daily, and even just starting a trip this way will help boost your awareness of places you regularly touch.
Now that we’ve established a relatively clean environment to travel in, we need to be sure not to contaminate when we get in from being away. Since touchless refueling hasn’t been developed, consider taking a sanitizing wipe to the pump handle, especially if there are no services to access running water. You can use it like a glove to avoid touching the actual surfaces of the pump. What about gloves you say? These can be useful too, but they do take practice to learn how to remove them without contaminating your skin, and people often forget that they don’t stop cross-contamination. If you do choose to use gloves, be certain to wash your hands after use and sanitize any personal items you touched with them.
Put a pump bottle of foaming hand sanitizer in a cupholder in your car.
This simple step can give you relief when you realize you don’t have access to running water. Or, maybe you used the restroom, washed your hands, then bought a snack and returned to your car. Just reach over and grab a pump of sanitizer before you go hand-to-mouth with those corn chips – you can even sanitize the bag before opening it.
Wash your hands!
While hand sanitizer is convenient and a great measure of defense, it doesn’t beat hand washing when it comes to removing contaminants. Wash your hands with soap and water, ideally, any time you leave your vehicle, definitely after you use the restroom, blow your nose, and any time they just feel dirty. The suds dissolve, dislodge, and lift particles away from your skin, and the water washes them away. Sanitizer can’t do that! And it really is the easiest way to avoid getting yourself, and others, sick.
Now that we’ve covered hand to mouth, there’s one more way you can decrease your odds of contracting, or even spreading, the novel coronavirus:
Wear a mask!
This is controversial these days. In this land of personal liberty, no one wants to be told what to do. The reality is that masks aren’t 100% effective for the wearer. But they are somewhat effective, and when everyone wears them the combined effectiveness is greatly increased. There are some concerns that need to be addressed, however. Be sure whatever style of mask you wear fits well and is breathable. Masks with valves may make it easier for you to exhale, but they do not protect others from you! So, avoid the valved masks so everyone can benefit. If you make your own cloth masks, ensure the fabric is breathable before committing it to a mask. The point of the mask is to allow you to breathe while filtering contaminants from both inhalations and exhalations. Make sure your cloth masks are clean when you wear them – as they may become mold and germ breeding grounds with repeated unwashed use. Stock up if you’re not washing them often, and put your dirty ones in a laundry bag or right into the washer. If using disposable masks, it’s best to go ahead and dispose of them after use. Finally, assume you’ve contaminated your hands when removing a mask, and be sure to wash or sanitize your hands directly afterward.